Jewish Heritage in Spain and Portugal

Jaen (S)

City Profile JaĆ©n, SpainThere is evidence that this area was settled as far back as the 25th century B.C.E., making it one of the oldest populated places on the Iberian Peninsula. The name of this city derives from the Arabic Yayyan, meaning “crossroads”. It is the first major city one encounters on entering Andalusia from Castile, and for centuries it served as a bastion of defense against invasion as well as a stop on an important trade route. Now it is known as the olive capital of the world, with 5.7 km2—the greatest area in Spain—devoted to these trees.

This region of Spain was under Muslim rule for more than seven centuries. The status of Jews was much more favorable here than in Christian Spain. However, after the Christian conquest all this changed. Jaen is the town where the first Statutes of Purity of Blood were written for all of Spain and it also became one of the three centers of the Inquisition in Andalusia.